In Chapter 11, Randy visits Ponyboy to discuss the upcoming trial. During their conversation, Randy tells Ponyboy that Johnny was holding the knife and killed Bob Sheldon. However, Ponyboy is still distraught and traumatized from the loss of his friends and says that he killed Bob Sheldon. Darry overhears the conversation and tells Randy to leave. While Ponyboy is laying on his bed, Darry notices that Pony is smoking. Darry immediately tells Ponyboy to put the cigarette out. Pony obeys his older brother, and Darry says, "Maybe you can be a little neater, huh, little buddy?" Ponyboy mentions that Darry had never called him "buddy" before. Typically, Soda was the only person who referred to him as "little buddy."
This moment is significant because it displays Darry's love and concern for Ponyboy. Darry understands that Pony is struggling to accept the fact that he has lost his friends, and attempts to console his younger brother. The word "buddy" is a term of endearment that people use to display their affection for others. It is Darry's way of telling Ponyboy that he cares about him and hopes that he will recover. This means a lot to Ponyboy, coming from Darry, who has continually fought with him throughout the novel.